Local economists have over the years decried the lack of new, up-to-date data on employment. The call for up-to-date data on employment has reached a crescendo in recent times as the issue of unemployment came to the fore. However, Botswana is yet to produce the latest Labour Force Report.
The last report was released in 2005/06, the third since the first one was produced in 1984. The report, which provides information on the economically active population, is produced every 10 years. According to Statistics Botswana its main objective is among others to provide basic information on the size and structure of Botswana’s workforce. However, Statistics Botswana cites that it produces other yearly surveys which provide broad information on economic activities in Botswana.
The production of such surveys however, as observed by pundits, does not provide comprehensive and extensive information as does the Labour Force Report; information that the economy is in dire need of to address the scourge of unemployment.
“Information from Labour Force Surveys is needed for measuring the extent of the available and unused human resources for the purpose of monitoring human resources development planning,” cites the Report.
Given the current unemployment context, such information can inform employment policies and programmes and also guide the national budget, which is due to be presented in less than a week. The unavailability of such wide ranging information could therefore be blamed for the sluggish progress in addressing unemployment. The last yearly Labour Statistics Report was conducted in 2011, which demonstrates a gap of five years to date. According to Statistics Botswana, the yearly report aggregates information from quarterly formal employment surveys. This represents a single aspect of the Labour Force, which in contrast to the Labour Force Report does not include mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories of the employed, unemployed and those not in the labour force.
The report explains that the employed and unemployed together form the labour force which gives a measure of the number of persons furnishing the supply of labour for the production of goods and services at a given point in time. Therefore such a function cannot be adequately met by the yearly Labour Statistics Report. The challenge with policy making in Botswana, as indicated by researchers at Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), is a lack of evidence based policy making, which as a result compromises capacity to address challenges. Experts on employment issues suggest that preparation of up to date and extensive information can better inform policies.